LAS VEGAS (KXNT) – With the nation reeling from the deadliest shooting incident in American history here in Las Vegas, local experts say it’s important to give yourself and the children in your life the emotional support to weather this tragic event.
UNLV professor and licensed therapist Dr. Katherine Hertlein suggested anyone who finds themselves upset or even a bit overwhelmed by Sunday night’s mass shooting shouldn’t disregard those feelings as inconsequential.
“It’s important for people to give themselves permission that they’re checking on their families and if things fall by the wayside today to not be too hard of themselves,” Hertlein said. “It’s okay to do that while you’re checking on others.”
Hertlein emphasized that it’s particularly important for everyone to feel they have some type of support in the wake of a tragedy.
“Making sure that you have people there so when these moments come up when your emotions are going to overtake you, that you have people that you can reach out and connect with,” Hertlein said. “What we find so often in grief is that these feelings sort of come up without us necessarily knowing that they’re right there. If you have an active support system, definitely be tapping into that.”
As for how to help children cope with the horrific aftermath, Hertlein said the message differs significantly when dealing with young children versus pre-teens or teenagers.
“When you’re working with young kids, you try to stay more general,” Hertlein said. “Something happened on the Strip, there was an accident on the Strip and a lot of people got hurt, but constantly pairing that message with the message of you’re safe and your family is safe. Kids will automatically think that their world is a little bit rocked, so you’ve got to make sure you’re pairing that message.”
The approach becomes more about opening communication lines when dealing with older kids, Hertlein said.
“Once you’ve given the message that you’re safe and you can explain a little bit about what happened…making sure that the kid has support and that they’ll talk to you or another adult or caretaker if they need to,” Hertlein said.
She also suggesting allowing older children to think of constructive ways they can help in the wake of such an event, including blood donations or aiding the victims with volunteer work.